PHOTO: Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

This is a photo my grandmother Carmen Gullicksen (n. Dominguez) showed me last year when I went to Missouri to meet her for the first time. It makes me smile just looking at it. I’m guessing it’s from Halloween from the late 1950s. From left, Christina Gullicksen, Otto Gullicksen, and my dad, Steven Gullicksen.

Letter from the Roman Catholic Military Society from 1896

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896. (Front)

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896. (Front)

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896.

Roman Catholic Military Society document from 1896


This is the oldest written document in my possession. It’s in some hard-to-read cursive (and Dutch), so I turned to Cousin Anje to learn a little more about it. Here’s her summary:

It is a letter of the Roman Catholic Military Society, signed 4 August 1896 by the chairman and secretary. It is a letter to a honorable man (whose name is not mentioned), who has been selected as an honorary member of the society in the meeting of 3 June 1896. The letter tells him that he will also receive a “material token of a appreciation.” They express the wish that this present will serve him well and that it will remind him of the Society.  
What the present is and to whom the letter is written remains a secret to me. It is mentioned that he served in a garrison in den Helder (den Helder is a marine city in the dutch province Noord-Holland). 
My best guess is that this document somehow ties to Dirk de Wit, who was an active member of the Dutch Reformed Church.

PHOTO: The daily life of Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp

Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp warm themselves near the stove.

Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp warm themselves near the stove.

This photo is a little scarred, but I like how it shows a glimpse into the daily life of Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, or Oma Doorn as I’ve always known her to be called. My mom’s side of the family has always liked dogs (we treat them like kings), and this image fits with that trend. It must have been a cold day, since Klaas and Wilhelmina are situated around a stove. Also, notice the kettle heading on the stove and Maria reading a book — a simpler time!

Photo: The Vargas sisters


Vargas sisters family photo. (Courtesy Carmen Gullickson)

Vargas sisters family photo. (Courtesy Carmen Gullickson)

This is a photo of a picture my grandmother had of my great-grandmother Carmen Vargas Marin and her sisters. From the top, left to right, Consuelo Vargas Marin [1912-2005], Nieves “Nancy” Vargas Marin [1914-?], Lucy Vargas Marin [unknown], and Carmen Vargas Marin [1906-1984].

There were originally six Vargas sisters, but two of them died in their late teens. All of them were born in Mexico and worked in the canneries in San Francisco after the family emigrated, according to my uncle Art.

1933 Kool family photo

Photo: Kool family in summer of 1933

A Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

A Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

The back of a Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

The back of a Kool family photo from the summer of 1933. (Courtesy of Halbo Kool)

This photo reminds me of half the family photos I’ve eve taken, where you hit the button before everyone is paying attention. It was sent to me by Halbo Kool and he had a go at deciphering the handwriting on the back, as well as identifying the faces he knew in the photo. Here’s what his note said:

“…Summer 1933 Her(man ?) Brouwer ( ?) ; Germ & Anni ; Hendrik & Irene ; HCK & Chr. (Hendrik 3rd from right, HCK and Chr the two on the left)”

To further translate, Christina Kolle is on the far left, and Halbo C. Kool is standing next to her. Halbo C. Kool’s brother Hendrik Kool is the third from the right with wife Irene, but we are not sure which woman she is. Germ Kool and wife Anni (Anna Hebelina Klugkist) are also in the photo, as are host Her(man?) Brouwer and another female.

As for the Brouwers, they may be relatives, but I am not sure. They may just be family friends. It’s funny, though, because my best friend and I are both interested in genealogy and she recently found some family members in her tree from the Netherlands with the last name Brouwer and so I’ve been on the lookout for connections between our families.

Recognize anyone? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to further narrow down who’s who in this photograph.

Cousin Anje has identified everyone in this photo:

1. Christina Kool (née Kolle) 1873-1957 married with Halbo Kool
2. Hendrik Kool 1869-1962 brother Halbo Kool, not married
3. Elsina Anna Kool 1867-1944 sister Halbo Kool, not married
4. Germ Kool 1875 – 1950 brother Halbo Kool, married with Anna Hebelina Klugkist
5. Anna Hebelina Kool (née Klugkist) 1880 -1944 married wirh Germ Kool. Her mother was a sister of Germ’s father.
6. Halbo Kool 1873 – 1943 married with Christina Kolle
7. Catharina Brouwer (née Meijer) 1870 – 1948. Married with Hergen Brouwer. Catharina’s mother was Annechiena Gezina Duintjer, a sister of Halbo Kool’s mother Gonda Margaretha Duintjer.
8. Hergen Brouwer 1871 – 1944

Thanks Anje!

Early 1900s photo of Cornelis “Cees” Kool, governess

Cornelis "Cees" Kool and governess.

Cornelis “Cees” Kool and governess. (Courtesy Halbo Kool)

This kid looks like he just does not trust the camera.

This is an early 1900s photo of Cornelis “Cees” Kool, with his governess, that Halbo Kool sent me a while back and I recently remembered I meant to post it. Cornelis was born on July 6, 1900, in Groningen, Netherlands, and died a grandfather in Canada on March 27, 1979. From what I’ve heard over the years, he was a pretty cool guy. Very smart. I’ll write more on him later.

Atenojenes Vargas, Nancy Vargas put faces on Barberan y Collar postcard

A postcard from Nieves Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas.

A postcard from Nieves “Nancy” Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas. (Courtesy Art Vargas)

This is a postcard with Nieves “Nancy” Vargas’ face superimposed on the left and her brother Atenojenes Vargas on the right in a plane with the words “Barberan y Collar.”

Some background…

The Vargas family immigrated to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, in the early 1900s, including husband Mariano Vargas Ramos, wife Candelaria Marin Hernandez and their eight children. The children were still little, so they were essentially raised in San Jose, Calif., growing up speaking heavily accented English but also Spanish at home, and most of the girls married young, according to my uncle Art, who is the son of Atenojenes.

After Candelaria died in 1930, Mariano and the unmarried siblings, Nieves and Atenojenes included, decided to return to Mexico. I would date this composite image in the early to mid-30s based on the “Barberan y Collar” wording. Barberan and Collar were Spanish aviators — Mariano Barberan y Tros de Ilarduya and Joaquin Collar. They flew a plane across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Cuba in June of 1933, according to The Biography. Later that same year, the plane headed for Mexico City but was intercepted by a storm and they were never to be seen again, according to The Biography.

Johan “Hans” Siersema in G.H.B.S. photo

Johan "Hans" Siersema and friends.

Johan “Hans” Siersema and friends.

UPDATE: Cousin Anje was able to track down a Ducth newspaper clip that said Johan graduated from Gooisch Higher Citzens School in  Bussum in 1943, indicating that this is a school photo. She posted more details in the comments.

ORIGINAL POST: This photo almost could be filed under Mystery Photo Series on this blog. It includes my grandfather Johan “Hans” Siersema (fourth in from the right), but I have no idea who the other people in the photo are. The writing on the back says only G.H.B.S. Google searches brought up a hockey club called Gemeentelijke Hogere Burger School for those initials, and hockey is fairly important in my family. My opa played in an adult league after immigrating to Canada and my uncle said he thought my opa broke a couple ribs playing. However, this club is in Groningen and to my knowledge, Hans didn’t spend any time there. If anyone else has ideas, I’d love to hear them.

WWII: Wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle in Haren, Netherlands

Wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle

Page one of a wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool and Christina Kolle. (Courtesy Halbo Kool)

Wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle

Page two of a wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle. (Courtesy Halbo Kool)

Halbo Kool, son of Halbo Christiaan Kool and grandson of Halbo C. Kool, sent me this wartime letter from 1942 — from Halbo C. Kool and Christina Kolle to their grandchildren — along with an extremely helpful translation with annotations. Halbo Kool called it “A bit off the cuff and not very polished translation but rather close to the original.” I call it a godsend on account of me not being able to read Dutch. Google Translate still isn’t user friendly. Without further ado…


Haren 24 July 1942

(Haren is a place near Groningen where my grandparents had a house on the Rijksstraatweg in a residential area. It was requisitioned later and my grandmother lived for years with her brother-in-law Hendrik, but moved in 1956 back to her house in Haren (but got only half of it, the rest was still let) and lived there till she died in 1957.)

Dear Children!

The last few days it was here too an unpleasant atmosphere. Sunday all the man’s bicycles were seized and Monday they asked door by door to hand them over. Then there was suddenly the rumour that the blankets were also asked for but it appeared to be a false alarm.

What a situation these days, I can understand that it’ll be bad in Amsterdam. Is it true of all those suicides?  People say that Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been surrounded with barbed wire, is that true as well? There seems to be much tension in the air, everybody is very nervous.

As far as food is concerned things aren’t to bad here, we still have a regular supply of potatoes and vegetables. Milk is getting difficult and is going to be rationed from August. It’s a big problem for Dad (Halbo Cornelis Kool) as I’m always making porridge from the bread, the grains (larger bits) stick in his throat and then he must cough terribly. (Christina’s note: Halbo C. Kool died the following year)

The weather is a bit rotten these days and we don’t go out of the house now that’s it’s almost August.This morning we received a letter from Kees (her son Cornelis Kool) and Loes (Christina’s note: Louise Lopes-Cardozo) demanding us a statement about our parents and ourselves so he can prove that we don’t descend from Jews (mixed Aryan-Jewish – excuse me the unacceptable expression – couples were then still had some respite, and it may well have saved Loes and her children from deportation, as it did for the first husband of my sister Anneke’s first husband, Emile Mot. His parents were both Jewish, almost all their family was deported, but he and his parents escaped, they lived in Hilversum, not far from Naarden, and a policeman had — to my knowledge –declared that Emile was his son from an adulterous relation with Emile’s mother.)

What can he do with this, perhaps that things are a bit easier for Loes? We’ll do of course straight away the necessary. Monday auntie Trui (Geertruida Kolle, sister of my grandmother) has her birthday and if at all possible I’ll pay her a visit. Auntie Marie (probably Johanna Maria Kolle, another of her sisters) is there and she’ll be able to tell us where we should go (for the information). Did you already visit Mrs. Cardozo (should be the mother of Loes, who was sent off to a concentration camp with or like her daughter Frederika, neither returned. This information and the names of the aunties was given to me by Anje.) or she you? How terrible all this is, such a family being ripped apart like this. You hear about such things but if you know the people well, you really feel it.

How are you Willy (my mother)? Do you still get extra food and are the children all right again? Are things all right in Haarlem (where Willy’ s parents and sister live). Do give them my greetings when you can. What kind of sugarsweet product is that, Halbo, and under what name is it sold in the shops, is it something for us to buy?

Well, dear children, the very best, greetings and a kiss from your loving Grandpa (and) Grandma. (C. Kool-Kolle)


I find this letter super interesting because it really reflects the issues of the day. It sounds like Cornelis Kool was trying to arrange it so his wife and family would avoid persecution and execution during the war. One of my uncles had said that was possible because Cornelis worked at a paper mill and the Nazis needed paper; therefore, his family was probably lower on a list somewhere (and speaking of commandeering bicycles, he’d saved for years for the car the Nazis took from him and stayed angry about that for many years after). As for this, though, it sounds like maybe he was doctoring some genealogy records? I certainly would.